‘Extent of the patronage shares issue for the co-op movement unknown’

The Revenue Commissioners doesn’t know the extent of the patronage shares issue for the rest of the co-op movement, Charlie Phelan, Assistant Secretary at the Revenue has said.

Phelan was speaking to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform earlier today.

He said that the Revenue knows the extent of the shares issue in Kerry Co-op but not for other co-ops.

On the letters that issued to 400 Kerry Co-op suppliers last month, he said that the letters were received by those who had the largest number of shares. Some 600,000 shares were issued in the three-year period 2011-2013, he said.

Phelan said that in no letter did the Revenue seek money from the affected farmers, that the letters showed the possible under declaration of tax.

“This [situation of just 400 suppliers receiving letters] appears to be unfair, but our examination is at a very early stage. We don’t think this is confined to 2011.

“There is no easy way of telling someone that there’s an issue with their tax. If there is tax owing for 2011, we’re obliged to collect that tax.”

Speaking at the committee today, Fine Gael Senator Kieran O’Donnell said that there are 400 suppliers, potentially more, affected by this issue.

The bottom line is that at this moment in time there are major livelihoods at stake.

Also speaking at the committee today was Kerry TD Michael Healy- Rae who said that the patronage shares issue has “struck the fear of God into honest farming families”.

“The one thing is that every farmer in Ireland has in common is that none of them are making money.”

Meanwhile, temperatures were running high last night at a meeting of Kerry suppliers in Co. Limerick.

The meeting was convened by local farmers and no farm organisations were involved. One farmer told Agriland that there is an incredible amount of fear among farmers.

“The personal side in all of this is being completely lost. Families are vulnerable. People simply cannot afford it. These are real human beings.”